Officers honored for valor
November 17, 2016
Two Portales police officers were honored with awards valor Tuesday night at the Portales City Council meeting regarding their actions during an altercation back in April.
Officers Nicholas Laurenz was presented the Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Award, while Officer David Haack was presented the Medal of Valor and Meritorious Service Award.
Courtesy photo: Susan Baysinger
Portales Police Department Sgt. Christopher Valdez, left, and Portales Police Chief Pat Gallegos present awards to Officers David Haack and Nicholas Laurenz, right, for their service April 11. Haack received the Medal of Valor and Meritorious Service Award, while Laurenz received the Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Award.
Before presenting the officers with their awards, Portales Police Chief Pat Gallegos offered background on the day they earned the honors.
“On April 11 of this year, we had an incident. I can’t explain how horrible it was, but when you hear ‘officer down, shots fired,’ your heart drops. On this day, Officer Laurenz was in field training with his FTO (field training officer),” he said.
Laurenz was assisting another officer with a traffic stop when several people, including Anthony Ortega, fled the vehicle on foot. After Laurenz caught up to Ortega, an altercation ensued between the two men. Shortly after the altercation began, Laurenz’ handgun discharged, shooting him in the leg.
“Just to show you how bad that fight was, he was in the fight within the first 10 seconds after exiting his vehicle. As soon as he ran up to the individual (Ortega), he was hit a couple of times in the head with brass knuckles, at which time the fight began,” said Gallegos. “About a minute and a half; that’s when he was shot. He continued to struggle and continued to fight.”
The foot pursuit passed in front of Haack’s residence, who was off-duty at the time, prompting him to assist his fellow officers, according to Gallegos.
“Officer Haack, hearing the gunshots, ran towards the gunfire. He didn’t have protection on; he was in shorts and a T-shirt. He ran toward the scene, actually took down the suspect, and after the suspect was taken down, he went and rendered aid to the officer, gave him a tourniquet,” he said.
After Gallegos presented their awards, city councilors lined up to thank the officers individually for their service.
Laurenz could not be reached for comment after the meeting.